Helicobacter pylori infection causes chronic gastritis, which can progress to severe gastroduodenal pathologies, including peptic ulcer, gastric cancer and gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma. H. pylori is usually transmitted in childhood and persists for life if untreated. The infection affects around half of the population in the world but prevalence varies according to location and sanitation standards. H. pylori has unique properties to colonize gastric epithelium in an acidic environment.
The pathophysiology of H. pylori infection is dependent on complex bacterial virulence mechanisms and their interaction with the host immune system and environmental factors, resulting in distinct gastritis phenotypes that determine possible progression to different gastroduodenal pathologies. The causative role of H. pylori infection in gastric cancer development presents the opportunity for preventive screen-and-treat strategies. Invasive, endoscopy-based and non-invasive methods, including breath, stool and serological tests, are used in the diagnosis of H. pylori infection.
Their use depends on the specific individual patient history and local availability. H. pylori treatment consists of a strong acid suppressant in various combinations with antibiotics and/or bismuth. The dramatic increase in resistance to key antibiotics used in H. pylori eradication demands antibiotic susceptibility testing, surveillance of resistance and antibiotic stewardship.